Why are so many robots white?

January 29, 2024

Many of these children could end up interacting with white robots. Why are Nao, Pepper and iCub, robots used in schools and museums, clad with shiny, white plastic? The cultural imaginary that enshrines robots as white, and in fact usually female, stretches back to European antiquity, along with an explosion of novels and films at the height of industrial modernity. But outside of Japan’s ethnically Japanese-looking robots, robots designed to be nonwhite are rare. Along with making robots less universally white and female, social scientists, interaction designers and engineers can work together to produce more cross-cultural sensitivity in gestures and touch, for example.